From “And Jesus Wept,” by Pastor K. David Oldfield

And They Twain Shall be One Flesh

This is a world of interwoven relationships. For example, mankind cannot be separated from his environment, such as, from the things that he eats. Then too, as much as we try, we can’t very well be isolated from other individuals, and certainly we can’t be severed from the Lord and live. Indeed, “…none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself” (Rom. 14:7).

Not only are we interwoven with the Lord, nature and other people, but with certain principles as well. The Lord has established many laws that simply can’t be broken without suffering the consequences.

Take for example the law of sowing and reaping: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal. 6:7-9). If an obese man wants to lose 100 pounds, he MUST cut down his food consumption; it is an established principle that too many calories mean excess body weight. And if a fair skinned person wants to keep from a sunburn, he must protect himself in some way. The law of sowing and reaping will not be broken.

As we have said before, pain is closely related to sin. Although we can’t say that every sufferer must be hiding terrible sins, we can expect suffering in the life of one who has deliberately chosen a course of transgression. Thus, the Baptist pastor has little to offer the sinner who rejects sin’s solution: repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. When, however, the sinner is born-again through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit received by grace through faith, there is a very special partnership for which there is no human equivalent. All illustrations are only approximate. Christ and the sinner form a special union.

Many scriptures speak of this fantastic relationship: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Cor. 5:17). “…I am made a minister…to fulfil the word of God;… to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:25-27). “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (I Cor. 1:30). “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (I Cor. 3:16)? “For I am persuaded, that” nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39).

“As lives the flower within the seed as in the cone the tree,
So, praise the God of truth and grace, His Spirit dwelleth in me.”
– James McGranahan

This extraordinary relationship means that the Christian is no longer an isolated unit of life. We are like average-ability tennis players that have moved from single’s competition to double’s, and our double’s partner is the Greatest Player of them all, the Lord Jesus Christ. When the match is against the team of “pain and suffering,” and when the Christian is struggling, he knows that he has a Partner Who is superior to his foes. Unfortunately, your unsaved friend will never have a true empathetic ally in the struggle with pain – never.

Jesus Tasted Common Pain

At the tomb of Lazarus, “Jesus wept” (Jn. 11:35). However you interpret those tears note very clearly that Jesus wept. They declare the presence of some sort of pain.

As the Saviour crested the hill called Olivet and looked down on the suffering city of Jerusalem, His aching heart cried out: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!” (Lk. 13:34). These were the words of a Man filled with a vision of lost souls choosing Hell over righteousness.

David once pled with the Lord to “put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book” (Ps. 56:8)? As the Holy Spirit inspired the psalmist, how do you think he envisioned this procedure? Would it be a literal tear in a literal bottle? That is unlikely. Could they not, just as the Saviour considered the persecution of His people to be persecution of Himself in Acts 9:4, be the tears of our Comforter shed in glory as we shed ours below?

Oh, you say, but Jesus Christ is God! He is deity and deity can’t feel pain the way we do? Oh, is that so?

Doesn’t the brightness of the sun hurt your eyes when you step out of a dark building? Whose eyes would you think hurt more: those of the nearly blind person or yours with the nearly perfect sight? What if you put your eye to a telescope pointed toward the sun, would that hurt you any more or less? Of course it would be more pain and probably blindness! The greater the eye, the greater the sensitivity.

The eye of Jehovah feels the pain of sin in His creation far more acutely than you or I ever will; so much so that He gave His Son to die for sin. Certainly, He is not changed by our pain; He is not made to act contrary to His own will, nevertheless the Bible does ascribe to Him certain “anthropopathisms,” which ascribe human emotions to God. “It grieved him at this heart” that He had made man on the earth (Gen. 6:6); God’s “soul was grieved for the misery of Israel” (Judg. 10:16); He said, “Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still; therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord” (Jere. 31:20). “I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses. For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old” (Isa. 63:7-9). Yes, these are verbal accommodations made because of man’s inability to grasp the passions of the Lord, but since they come from the Bible, they must express anthropomorphically the true heart of God.

Remember too that the One of whom it is said, “In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9) has suffered many of the same things that you and I have suffered. Jesus’ birth, for example, was like all others–painful to both mother and child. He surely felt the grief of loss at the passing of Joseph. Oh, how the teasing of his brothers must have stung. Did he pass through the carpenter’s shop without ever hitting his thumb, putting a splinter into his finger, stubbing his toe or stepping on a nail? Yes, Jesus can comfort us in the pain of poverty, for He has felt it. He knows what hunger, thirst and weariness are. His body and soul have been troubled by persecution. He was tempted as all of us have been. He was slandered and defamed. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:15-16).

Christ Suffered like No Other

Certain aspects of Jesus’ passion on the cross have been borne by others, both on and off crosses and fiery faggots. Perhaps upon your profession of faith in Christ you were mocked by your family. Maybe you have been only half believed by your mother; betrayed by your friends; beaten, whipped, spit upon, driven, shamed, nailed, exposed and made a laughing stock–maybe! But none of us have endured such things while bearing the incredible weight of sin as did the Saviour. “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (I Pet. 2:24). “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:5). It can be safely said that no one has ever suffered as the Son did when the Father turned His back against Calvary (Mk. 15:34). He was indeed, “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3).

Jesus’ death, burial and, finally, His resurrection ought to be for every Christian sufferer the stair-steps necessary for that weaker partner to enjoy victory over sin and its team-mate pain. The empty tomb tells us that no stone has been left unturned to defeat our every enemy. “We have not been abandoned!”

Some turn in disgust from a vision of the suffering Saviour. “Give me a king on his throne, not some bloody body, hanging limply from a stake,” they say in their pride. But the Christian sees rather his Partner taking the bullet meant for him. He sees Jesus’ blood, poured out in agony for him. We can’t leave such love! Why leave such love? We have a partner in pain!

The three Hebrew children, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, walked through the fire at the brink of the valley of death, fearing no evil for the Son of God was there absorbing the heat and the pain for them (Dan. 3:25).

“But, if they felt no pain, why must I?”

There is certainly a proper answer every time this question is asked, but unfortunately, more often than not, no man on earth has it. Yet, that doesn’t dissolve the partnership, love and available comfort.

“If the Lord is with me, why is there so much pain in this world,” asked Gideon. Because the equation is more complicated than simple mathematics.

“I will mention the loving-kindnesses of the LORD, and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses. For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old” (Isa. 63:7-9).

God “spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all…” (Rom. 8:32). And in this God the father has said, “I love you.”

A grieving mother, with tears streaming down her face, looked at the pastor and shouted, “How can God let my daughter suffer like this?” The wise old shepherd had only a simple answer, “How could He let his own Son suffer so?”

Jesus did not suffer to save you from suffering, but to save you from the just wrath of God for your sin. As He suffered he showed us all how to suffer, leaning on the will and wisdom of His Father.

Are you hurting? Look at Jesus’ scars! Look at the Levites holding the Ark of the Covenant in the midst of the Jordan until you pass over (Josh. 4:10).

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name” (Phil. 2:5-8).

“What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” (Phil. 3:7-11).

If you are in the midst of misery, remember that Jonah saw more of the Lord in the belly of the whale than he ever did before his journey began; he had a partner in his pain, even though it was brought on by his own sin.

When Paul was battling Euroclydon, the Lord and his angels were with him in the ship (Acts 27:14, 23), and He is with us in ours.

“When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee” (Isa. 43:2).

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified” (I Pet. 4:12-14).

Does Jesus care when my heart is pained too deeply for mirth and song;
As the burdens press, and the cares distress,
And the way grows weary and long?
Does Jesus care when my way is dark with a nameless dread and fear?
As the daylight fades into deep night shades,
Does He care enough to be near?
Does Jesus care when I’ve said “good-bye” to the dearest on earth to me,
And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks – is it aught to Him?
Does He see?
Oh, yes, He cares; I know He cares, His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary, I know my Saviour cares.”
— J. Lincoln Hall

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